DISCLAIMER Scarecrow & Mrs. King is copyrighted to Warner Brothers and Shoot The Moon Production Company. The original portions of this story, however, are copyrighted to the author. This story is for entertainment purposes only and cannot be redistributed without the permission of the author. If you want to put it on your site, please email me, I would like to thank you for the high compliment. No infringement of copyright is intended.

This story takes place after my story Trial by Fire. Unless you've read that one, this one won't make much sense. There was a suggestion to continue with the sessions Amanda and Lee had with Dr. Pfaff, so here they are. And finally—the big date.

Trial by Fire—the Aftermath

Epilogue 6 Friday evening, 6:50pm

Lee was driving to the restaurant. He was dressed and eagerly anticipating his 'date' with his Amanda. 'This is it,' he thought. 'After tonight everything changes between Amanda and me.' He smiled and glanced to the passenger seat where a single red rose lay.

They had agreed to meet at the restaurant—a supper club outside DC in the Virginia suburbs. Lee was still apprehensive about Amanda introducing him to her family. 'That will come later,' he thought. 'Right now I need to make sure she feels the same about me as I do about her.'

He arrived and saw Amanda's Wagoneer was not there. He waited in his car for her. A few minutes later, the Wagoneer pulled into the lot, and Lee left his car and walked out to Amanda as she parked her car. He opened the door for her and offered a hand to help her out.

"Good evening, Amanda," he said before he kissed her hand.

She smiled at him in return, "Good evening, Lee."

He produced the rose he held behind his back, "This is for my amazing partner."

She took the flower and smelled it, "Thank you, Lee, It's beautiful."

"So are you," he replied softly.

Amanda blushed and ducked her head, "Thank you, Lee," she replied shyly.

"Let's go in," he offered her his arm.

"OK," she replied as she took his arm and he pulled her close.

They walked into the restaurant. The supper club had two sides, one was a bar with an area for a band and a dance floor. A group was setting up, piano, a bass and a singer. The placard said they specialized in standards and oldies for relaxation and dancing. The other half of the establishment was an elegant restaurant—plush with secluded tables and romantic lighting.

They were seated immediately and the maitre d' showed them to a table in an alcove, partially screened by decorative pillars and greenery. They sat and the waiter came up immediately with menus. They studied the menus and ordered. Lee got a bottle of white wine to accompany Amanda's chicken and his grilled salmon. Once the wine arrived and Lee had tasted it and approved, the waiter poured them each a glass and discreetly left.

He raised his glass to his partner, "To the future, Amanda."

She smiled in return, "To the future, Lee," and they clinked glasses.

They chatted comfortably about office gossip and Amanda's family and Lee's latest shopping trip where he hadn't been able to find a pair of shoes that he liked that fit properly. Amanda suggested an upscale men's shoe store that Lee didn't know.

"How do you know where to buy men's shoes, Amanda?" He asked.

"Lee, I was married for ten years and I've bought a lot of men's clothes in that time. Plus I have two growing boys who are starting to wear men's sizes."

Lee nodded, "Yeah, Joe. That makes sense."

Their dinners arrived and they ate. Afterward they chatted some more and sipped their wine. The waiter came and offered dessert.

Amanda shook her head, "I'm not ready for dessert yet, Lee."

He waved the waiter away, "Why don't we move over to the bar—we can get a table there, finish our wine and listen to the music and dance. And we can get dessert later."

"That sounds wonderful," she agreed.

Lee paid the bill and they took their wine and moved to a table in the back of the bar. They could see the group and hear the music, but they were out of the way enough so they could talk, also. The band was scheduled to start at 8:30, so they had some time before they could dance.

They got settled, and Amanda studied her wine.

"Lee…" she began, then trailed off.

"Yes?" he was prepared to be patent.

She sighed and gathered her thoughts. "Would it be OK with you if we talked about some of what happened this last week?"

"Of course," he replied quietly, "what's on your mind?"

"You once said that Dr. Pfaff has ruined people's careers at the Agency."

Lee shifted, 'What did that shrink pull with her?' he thought. He chose his words carefully, "It hasn't happened often—but it has happened a couple of times, yes," he admitted grudgingly.

"So he doesn't do that very often, then?" she looked more hopeful.

Lee shook his head definitively, "No. Only in a couple cases where people were really burnt out or highly insubordinate—"

"Insubordinate?" she cut him off. "Like how?" she looked worried again.

'What?!' Alarm bells went off in Lee's mind, 'Something is definitely not right here,' he thought. He spoke carefully again, "Well—like refusing direct orders or going off on their own against orders or not following policy or procedures."

"I see," she looked back down at her wine, still worried.

Lee gently took her hand. "Amanda, talk to me. What did Pfaff say to you? Did he threaten to have you fired?"

She looked up at him, "Oh no—nothing like that. It was just … well … I got angry at him and told him off." She looked ashamed.

"So what? I do that all the time."

"Really?"

"What was it about, Amanda? He must have pushed one of your buttons pretty hard to get you upset enough to tell him off."

She sighed and caressed his hand. "Yeah. He told me I needed to change my custody arrangement with Joe—he said Joe and I should share full joint custody of the boys."

"What? Where does he get off?" Lee said in a raised voice.

"Lee—shhh! He just was pushing me and pushing me that I didn't have enough time for myself—how I didn't date…"

"That…" Lee took a calming breath and ran his hand through his hair. "He was on me about dating, too. But we talked about that already."

She nodded, "Yeah. Lee—I'm worried. Will he report me for refusing to consider changing my custody arrangement?"

"If he does—go to Billy. He'll back you 100 percent. Billy isn't too keen on Pfaff as it is."

"OK," she nodded. She took a breath and forged ahead, "Then there's the gun issue…"

"Gun issue?"

"You know I hate guns. But if I want to stay at the Agency, Mr. Melrose wants me to qualify with a gun."

Lee nodded, "I know, I know. What can I do to help you, Amanda? Would you come with me to the range? I want to help you with this."

"Thank you, Lee. That's sweet. It's just … Dr. Pfaff wants me to have a gun at home"

"He what!? What about your boys? That's nuts!"

"Lee, I know. He kept trying to get me to agree that having a gun at home would be a good thing for me. All I can think of is one of the boys or their friends finding it and something horrible happening."

"Amanda—maybe you should tell me more about what you and Dr. Pfaff talked about—if it's OK with you. It's just…" Lee reined in his temper. Getting mad at Pfaff wouldn't help his partner. "You're upset and worried and I don't want my partner feeling that way. You just got back from a tough week—and you were amazing! You did something that regular agents would have blanched at—and you got through it with flying colors. You stayed alive, you didn't give them anything and you've recovered from the drugs. That's amazing for an agent, and you're only a civilian auxiliary. You should be proud of yourself, Amanda. Not worried for your job. That bastard—if he's trying to mess you up, I swear..."

"Lee," she put her hand on his cheek and turned his face to her, "Lee—please."

"OK, Amanda. I'm just steamed he seems to have made you feel bad—when you should be really happy about how all this came out. You did great, Amanda! Really great! Do you know how well you did this last week? Do you?"

"Lee, I don't feel like I did great. I let them kidnap me, I didn't get away when I had the chance, I won't let anyone have sex with me so I can try to escape, I don't want to have a gun in the house and I certainly won't change my custody arrangement with Joe!" she was agitated by the end of her rant.

Lee slowly shook his head, "Amanda, I'm sorry."

"What? You didn't do anything wrong, Lee."

"No. I should have warned you—I should have prepared you for Dr. Pfaff. These shrinks are all alike. They try to tear you down and rebuild you in their image."

"What?"

Lee looked around. They had finished their wine, the other tables were filling up, and the band was starting to play. "Amanda, we need to talk about this, but not here. Would you come back with me to my place? We'll pick up some dessert on the way and then we can talk about this. There are some things you need to know about life at the Agency."

"Need-to-know—and for once I really do get to find out? How can I pass that up? OK Lee," she agreed.

They went to their cars and drove toward Lee's apartment. They stopped at a gourmet grocery store and got two desserts and some fresh-ground coffee. Once they got to Lee's they rode up the elevator in silence, Lee's hand in the small of her back.

'That bastard, Dr. Pfaff,' Lee fumed inwardly, 'He should have allowed Amanda to feel good about recovering and getting through the week. Instead she's worried about losing her job and feeling like shit for all the 'mistakes' she made. Hopefully I can help her to undo all the damage.'

Once inside, Lee set the desserts aside and Amanda settled on the couch.

"You want some coffee?" Lee asked.

"Yes, please. That would be nice," she replied gratefully.

He made coffee and brought it out to her. They sat at opposite ends of his couch, facing each other.

"Amanda, I meant what I said before. You did great this past week. You're amazing and I'm thrilled that you got through it all, recovered and bounced back. I know it was tough for you but I the end I think you're stronger for it."

"Yeah. Dr. Pfaff made me realize that too."

"Really?" Lee said dryly. "I'm surprised. Usually the shrinks make sure you aren't too full of yourself. They try to get you to 'face reality' and to see things according to the Agency party line."

"What do you mean, Lee?"

"Well—as an example—say you have to betray a source—or do something less-than-ethical to attain your objective."

"Like 'sleeping with the enemy' " Amanda offered.

"Something like that, yes," he agreed, "the Agency line is that you have to compartmentalize yourself—what you do in the line of duty is justified by the results you can get."

"So let me get this straight—most people wouldn't sleep with someone unless they found them attractive and cared for them," Lee nodded, "but in the line of duty it's different—you have to think of it as part of the job, and necessary."

"Exactly, Amanda. It isn't personal. That's what they tell us."

"Lee, I can't do that. That's not the kind of person I am."

"I know, Amanda, I know." He thought, 'And that's one of the many reasons I … love you.' Then he forged ahead, "It's the shrinks' job to make you feel OK about it all—to help you justify it to yourself—to allow you to live with yourself despite some of the rotten things the job makes you do." He sounded a lot more bitter than he had realized.

Amanda nodded and looked sympathetic. "I see, Lee." She spoke softly and touched his knee. "You've been through that more than once, haven't you?"

"Yeah—but this isn't about me—I want to make sure Dr. Pfaff didn't screw you up. Those guys love to get in your head and poke around and 'improve' you …" He became lost in the memories of his visits with various base psychiatrists during his youth—most of them had been well-meaning and genuinely trying to help. But their cumulative efforts had contributed to Lee being the emotionally distant and mistrustful man he had been when he had handed that package to Amanda. 'If not for her…' he thought. Then he got back on track. He took a deep breath and returned to the here-and-now. "OK. Tell me about what he said to you. Let's start with letting yourself get kidnapped."

"Dr. Pfaff didn't say anything about that specifically… It's just that you've told me repeatedly 'a good agent is always aware of his surroundings.' I think if I had been more aware, they might not have gotten me." She sounded discouraged.

"Amanda—even the best of us get blind-sided. It happens. From what you described—it might not have been possible for you to avoid being kidnapped unless you ran as soon as you saw those guys. And then they might have chased you. So don't beat yourself up about that, OK?"

She nodded. "OK."

"Now—you said you got the ropes loose and you ran."

"Yes, but I wasn't fast enough. They caught me."

"That's right—you weren't fast enough. You tried, though. You got the ropes off—and you ran. That's lots more than some would have done. You'd been chloroformed—I'm surprised you could run. That's pretty amazing—so again you did your best. The trick is to maximize your opportunities—take every chance you get to try to better your situation or escape. And you did, Amanda, you did."

"Actually, I didn't. Dr. Pfaff made me realize I should have allowed the mean man to … to well, have his way with me and I should have tried to escape then."

Lee clenched his jaw at that. 'He's trying to turn my Amanda into Francine… That bastard…' He calmed himself and spoke, "Amanda he is so full of it for that! Maybe that's Francine's style—but honestly I don't know if even Francine would have tried a stunt like that in your position."

"Why?" Amanda was surprised at that statement.

"Too many variables and you were at a strong disadvantage. You had been drugged—you had injuries that impaired you—the odds just weren't good for it to work. Pfaff isn't an agent—he doesn't understand. You consider all the options but you work with what you have—and don't have. For him to suggest you try that—well—he just doesn't have a clue."

"Oh!" she said in surprise. "I had thought of all of that but he said I should have tried it anyhow… maybe he more implied it…"

"Uh huh. That's what they do—they plant their ideas and suggestions—like little time bombs in your head—and believe me, unless you know what they're doing and defuse them they can come back and bite you in the ass when you least expect it."

"Sounds like you're speaking from experience."

"Yeah, well I learned long ago how to combat their garbage. It took a while, though, and I will admit I've been bitten more than once. Now about the gun issue—I understand. I really do. And I'll help you in any way I can."

"I know, Lee. I've tried, and I'll try again. I just don't like the idea of shooting at a person. Period." Lee nodded. "And about having a gun in the house, forget it!"

"I hear you, Amanda. With your boys it's just too dangerous." He got an idea, "If you do end up qualifying, you could store your gun in the Q Bureau—we could get a gun safe there or something."

"Really? Is that OK with the Agency?"

"All I care about is if it's OK with you. Maybe we can get Billy to agree, then it'll be OK with the Agency, too."

"OK, Lee. That makes me feel a whole lot better about it."

"I'm glad, Amanda. Now about this dating garbage—what did he say to you?"

"He just thinks I need to take more time for myself. He tried to make me promise that I'd have mother take care of my boys so I could date. Really! They're my boys—my responsibility. I'm really grateful to mother for helping out and living with us—but I don't want to impose on her, either. I won't push my responsibilities off on my mother."

"Like Joe pushed his responsibilities off on you," Lee added quietly.

Amanda looked surprised, then thought for a few moments. "I never thought of it that way. But you're right. Joe did dump all his responsibilities for the boys on me."

"Not to mention managing the house and what he owed you as his wife. Y'know, for someone who has shouldered a big burden for a lot of years, you're remarkably complacent about it. Most women in your position would be bitter as hell."

"Lee—I decided long ago—being bitter or angry isn't helpful. It only churns up bad feelings and it doesn't get anything constructive done. I like Joe—I love him as a friend—and—what do they say?—friends are people you like in spite of their faults."

"Something like that."

"Well—I know Joe—I know his work will always come first—I admire him for the work he does—but at the same time I'm upset that he doesn't make more time to be with the boys. He apparently has time to date and socialize outside work, but he still won't set time aside for the boys unless I push it."

"I thought he takes the boys every other weekend?"

She sighed, "He agreed to—but most of the time it's not for the whole weekend—like this weekend—he's supposed to take the boys Friday after school—but instead he's picking them up after their game tomorrow afternoon. If he remembers and is on time," she finished tiredly.

"That must be tough on you and your mother. You guys can't make plans because you can't count on Joe to hold up his end of the agreement."

"See, you understand—but somehow Joe just doesn't get it."

"Amanda, is there anything else Pfaff said that you want to talk about?"

"Let me think for a bit." She thought and Lee went out to the kitchen and got both of them some more coffee. He handed her the refilled mug.

"Thank you, Lee." She took a sip. "Oh, he tried to make me agree it was OK to lie to mother and the boys."

"That's always been tough for you," Lee said sympathetically.

"Yes it has. I understand its part of the job—but I still hate it."

"See what I mean about twisting your head to be OK with the unpleasant stuff?"

"Oh yeah. He was concerned I'd blame you for being kidnapped—but I don't. I'm an adult and I've chosen to do this so the responsibility is mine. Besides, blame isn't helpful. I'll be lots more careful in the future—but blame you? I could never blame you—I'm grateful to you. After all, if you hadn't handed me that package…"

"You didn't have to take it—so I'm grateful to you as well." His thoughts continued his statement, 'for that and so much more…'

They gazed into each others' eyes for a few moments—then Amanda looked down and continued, "He did ask what I thought I had gained from the experience—that was actually helpful," she said with a touch of surprise. "And we talked about me getting agent training."

"Really!" Lee was surprised.

"He posed it as a 'what if' but still—it would be nice…"

"I agree—but the process is clearly spelled out—and you didn't pass Station One so…"

"I know. Still, it would be nice…" she pulled herself from her musings and continued, "He wanted to know how I resisted the drugs—he asked how I knew …" she trailed off and looked a bit lost.

"What?"

"Oh—I guess it's nothing. Let's see—he told me a statistic—that 237 shots are fired in the line of duty—and practice doesn't count—for every shot that hits an enemy. Is that true? Are you guys that bad at shooting?"

Lee chuckled. "Pfaff loves statistics. Personally I think that one is pure bull."

"Because you're lots better than that. Does that count the bad guys too, or just Agency personnel?"

"Amanda, just forget it. He wanted to make a point and so he used statistics to help persuade you. It's probably pure fantasy."

"Oh. Do you mean he … lied to me?"

"Maybe. He'd think of it as 'creative persuasion' or some other slippery term to justify it to himself. They play those games on themselves as well as their 'patients'."

"So when he asked about us sleeping together…" she mused to herself.

Lee's mind stopped in shock—did she mean what he thought she meant? His mind was whirling with images of himself and Amanda making love—holding her—kissing her—being together… Then he realized she was talking, and he dragged his mind back to the here-and-now.

"He was really interested about the times we slept together during that week. He took lots of notes about it. He tried to get me to say I … well—that it was more than it really was," she finished lamely.

Lee wondered what she had avoided saying—but thought it would be best to just address the issue at hand head-on. "Amanda, we did sleep together—three times. But that's all it was—sleep. You know I'd never take advantage of you like that…"

"Oh Lee—of course! I trust you totally. But he tried to make it sound—almost indecent."

Lee nodded, "Those psychiatrists see sex in everything."

"I guess."

"We know nothing happened…"

"Of course, Lee."

"I know how strongly you feel about sex and marriage…"

"I know—and you're sweet to be so considerate. And I don't think I've let you know how much I appreciate all you did for me."

"You did…"

She cut him off, "No, I didn't. Lee, I don't think I could have gotten through it all if you weren't there with me. You were the only thing that seemed real—you were the only one that was totally there for me. Even Mr. Melrose—well he cares but he has his agenda, too. You focused on me and helped me get better." Lee didn't know how to respond—he was at a loss for words. Amanda saw that and gave him an out, "You even gave up coffee for almost a whole week. That was a supreme sacrifice, and I thank you for that." She leaned over and softly kissed him on the cheek.

Lee was touched, but chose to respond in kind, "For you Amanda, nothing is too much. I told you—we're partners and I need you with me in the field." Then he decided to take a small risk, "My life is much better because you're in it with me."

Her eyes widened and she blushed, "Thank you, Lee. That's very nice of you to say that."

Lee's thoughts intruded again, 'God, how I want to kiss her—but now isn't the right time. We've got to get through all this crap Pfaff poured into her head.' Lee focused on his objective, "Was there anything else you talked about that made you feel bad?"

"You want to defuse all the time bombs, huh?"

"Yes."

She thought for a couple more minutes. "He had me talk about … daddy—my father. How he died and what it was like."

"Yeah, they like stuff like that. Are you OK about it? Talking about it, I mean? You don't have to if it makes you uncomfortable."

"Oh Lee, it's not that. It happened a long time ago. It's just that—I didn't really think about it at the time—but now I feel … I don't know. I just wish I hadn't said anything to him. It's too … private and with all the other stuff he said to me—I guess I'm having second thoughts about it but I can't take it back. And … it hurts. Even after all this time, it still hurts." She sniffed and Lee pulled her closer and stroked her hair. She sighed a couple of times and then wiped her eyes. "Thank you, Lee. That helps a lot—to know that you care…"

"I care, Amanda. I care a lot. And I know what it's like—he had me talking about …" He stopped and then decided to continue, "He had me talk about Eric."

Amanda sat up and looked at him. "Eric, your partner that … died?"

"Yeah."

"Oh Lee. It still hurts, doesn't it?"

Lee could only nod.

She sounded more positive, "Well, I'm still here and I'm OK so you don't have to worry about me."

Lee smiled, "Yeah, you recovered—and I'm really glad about it—for you and me both." They smiled at each other. "So, how about that dessert?" he offered.

Amanda nodded.

He got up to get the desserts and called back, "You want more coffee with that?"

"No, I'm OK with what I have here," she called back.

He got their desserts and they ate in companionable silence. Lee mused to himself, 'He really tried to mess her up. Making her talk about her dad—that's taking advantage of her when she's vulnerable. I should kick his ass from here to Moscow and back. Maybe now she'll be more cautious—now that she knows more about how they try to twist your head—Oh God! He did it. She's not as naïve about the shrinks any more. She's been burned by them. God I hate that. She shouldn't be damaged by our own people—the bad guys do more than enough.'

They finished their desserts and sat side-by-side on the couch sipping their coffee, thinking their own thoughts. Then Lee got an idea.

"Amanda, I promised to take you to dinner and dancing afterward." She nodded. He continued, "What do you say? I'll put on a record and we'll dance…"

She nodded, "That would be nice. But I think I need to get home soon. I've had a wonderful dinner and I'm really glad we talked—but I'm starting to get tired…"

"Hey, it's OK. You've been through a lot and you still need to rest and recuperate. So one dance, and then I'll follow you and make sure you get home safely."

She started to protest and he laid a gentle finger on her lips.

"No arguments, Amanda. Please let me do this. Otherwise I'll just worry about you."

She looked surprised, "That's my line, Stetson."

"After this week, I think I get to worry about you, too," he replied.

"All right." She agreed. "We'll watch each others' backs—like always."

Lee put on some slow jazz and held his hand out to Amanda. She took it and stepped into his arms. They began to dance and as they moved together to the music they relaxed into each other. Amanda laid her head on Lee's shoulder, and Lee rested his cheek in her hair.

As the music played Lee realized this 'date' with Amanda hadn't turned out like he had planned. 'We ended up talking more than anything else—but Amanda really needed it. And I'm glad we could talk and defuse all those time bombs Pfaff planted in her head.'

He sighed and breathed in the scent of her perfume. He realized the way he was feeling right now was something new—holding Amanda—dancing slowly—feeling protective and caring for her so deeply—added to the love had already acknowledged—all that combined to create an overall aura of peace and a warm glow of happiness. Suddenly it wasn't just about the sex, or even love—but the whole package. He briefly wondered if this was the path that led to marriage—or at least a lifelong commitment. He knew that tonight there would be no romance—no kissing, not to mention sex—but he knew he was truly OK with that. The ties he and Amanda had forged since they met were so strong and deep that he knew it was now just a matter of time before things would progress to romance. And for once—he could let it happen as it would. Tonight was another milestone in their relationship—and now he was confident they could go on.

The music ended and they stepped apart. They gazed into each others eyes for a few minutes. Then Lee spoke, "You ready to head home now, Amanda?"

She smiled, then yawned, "Yeah—sorry Lee—it's been a long week, I guess."

"Yes it has, and you have nothing to apologize for. But you do have a lot to be proud of. Don't lose sight of that, Amanda. You're incredible, and I'm really lucky to have you as my partner."

"Thank you, Lee. But you had a lot to do with all of it."

Lee got her wrap, and they rode down to their cars. He escorted her to her car, and helped her in, then tenderly kissed her hand. "Goodnight Amanda."

"Goodnight, Lee. I had a lovely time, thank you."

"My pleasure, always."

Once Amanda was settled in and the door closed, he went to his 'Vette. They moved out—Amanda leading and Lee following closely. As she turned into her driveway, he blinked his lights and drove past. Then he circled back around the block and pulled to a stop a few houses down. Amanda had already gone into her house, and Lee waited while the lights went out in the kitchen, then on, and then off, in her bedroom. Feeling confident she was safe and secure for the night, he waited a few more minutes and then drove home.

He thought as he drove the familiar route, 'Boy, Pfaff sure tried to do a number on her. I'm glad I was able to help her shake out all the garbage he had dumped in her head.' He sighed, 'She's less innocent than she was. And it was Pfaff that helped do it—did he do that purposely? Probably not. He wouldn't see anything wrong with what he did. I'm just glad I was there for Amanda.'

His mind drifted to thoughts of a romantic relationship with his partner. 'Why have things taken so long with Amanda? I've never taken this long before with a woman. What is different with Amanda? Before tonight I just couldn't take that next step with her—I guess I was hoping Amanda would do it for me. Things have changed between us this last week—I just didn't see it all until tonight. I know I'm ready now. For the future. For our future—together.'

The End, of this interlude. Now, back to the regularly scheduled season 3 ending, All the World's a Stage.